Another week to remember? Adames had one to give Lamar momentum

Published 11:18 pm Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Great things were to be expected from Lamar freshman Robin Adames when he drove in two runs on a game-winning single against LSU in February.

He was already seeing action in each of the Cardinals’ games up to that point, but had yet to manufacture a hit. He rose to the occasion that Feb. 24 night, going 2 for 4 with three runs batted in.

But it wasn’t his grandest game.

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That came last Friday at Stephen F. Austin. Adames knocked two home runs, scored two more, drove in four runs and batted 4 for 4 in a win that ended a stretch of seven losses in eight games.

And it earned Lamar’s own Bronx bomber the Southland Conference Hitter of the Week award.

“I didn’t expect a week like that, but anything to help the team win is always great,” Adames said. “So, it was a great week for all of us.”

Adames also carries a six-game hitting streak into tonight’s Southland Conference tournament opener against Central Arkansas. He’s two games shy of his longest streak, which began at Northwestern State on March 13 and ended at home against New Orleans March 25.

He ran his batting average from .265 to .308 during that string, hitting 11 for 31. In the three-game series at SFA, Adames — now a .292 hitter — was 6 for 12.

“That first game [against SFA], I came up a few times with a man in scoring position,” Adames said. “It was close those first few innings, and me bringing in those runs opened the door for us to keep scoring. That’s what helped us to win our first game. After that, we just kept going.”

Lamar outscored SFA 35-15 in the series.

Just one day after the Southland honored Adames, fellow Lamar newcomer Reid Russell was tabbed the conference’s Hitter of the Year. Adames, a true freshman, has learned a few things from the junior transfer, of course.

“His approach at the plate is ridiculous,” Adames said. “Basically, every pitcher he faces is scared up there. They just pitch around him, and he just finds a way to still do something. It’s great to watch.”

Adames, who hit as high as .438 as a junior at James Monroe High in the Bronx, N.Y., has six homers and 15 doubles at Lamar.

He had to overcome a 0-for-13 series against Southeastern Louisiana to come up with another late-game heroic against Sam Houston State. After Trey Silvers drove in two runs on a single to tie the game at 8-8 in the eighth inning, Adames scored Silvers on a sacrifice grounder to third.

“It was more of a mental aspect, trying to do too much, trying to get a base hit here and there and manufacture runs and trying to be the hero every time,” Adames said of the slump.

Adjusting the mental aspect helped Adames the most, he said. In fact, the whole team has, in order to go on a roll heading into Sugar Land.

“I think we might have been pressing a little too much, but this weekend showed us that baseball is a lot of fun,” Russell said. “If you’re not having fun, you’re not going to win and you’re not going to be successful. We tried to get back to that mentality and it is a lot of fun, because we were hitting the ball out of the ballpark, pitching good. I think that’s the main thing.”

Gilligan’s era

One thing is for sure: Lamar (35-17, 20-10 Southland) has at least two games to play in the regular season.

Whether retiring coach Jim Gilligan will get to lead one more practice at Vincent-Beck Stadium isn’t yet known. That’s even if Lamar wins its first Southland Conference tournament title since 2010.

“This ballpark, while I love it, it’s more than likely if we get into a regional, we’ll come home packing and going,” he said Monday. “It’s probably my last practice here and I love this place, but it didn’t treat us kindly this year, as far as matching up to our hitters.”

Senior Will Hibbs (9-2, 3.20 ERA), who will start tonight against UCA, and his teammates want to reward Gilligan with more games.

“He’ll say, it’s for us. We’ll say, it’s for him,” Hibbs said. “We’re a family. It’s for everyone. We’re going to get out and good things will happen.”

Gilligan seemed to hold out hope that Lamar’s 16-5 road record, along with six wins against RPI Top 50 teams (3-0 record against Southeastern Missouri, 1-0 against Arizona, 1-2 against Sam Houston State) could somehow give NCAA Division I baseball committee members a reason to strongly consider Lamar for an at-large bid.

But he’s not nervous about Lamar’s chances to win the Southland in his final conference tournament. The Cards are seeded fourth, losing a third-place tiebreaker with Northwestern State (head-to-head), but went 1-5 combined against regular-season champion Sam Houston State and Southeastern Louisiana before sweeping SFA.

“Why would I have that thought?” he said, asked about his level of nervousness. “Any player that has thoughts like that need to get rid of that and coaching’s the same way.

“I’m sitting here [in the dugout at Lamar]. This will probably be my last practice day there. It’s sentimental but not nervous.”

Hibbs can fix it

Hibbs, a first-team All-Southland pitcher, has given up 16 earned runs on 18 hits in his last 14 innings (three appearances). His record in that span: 0-1; Lamar won in his last two starts.

But the ace said he’s never lost his confidence.

“It’s a combination of a minor tweak here, minor tweak there, along with catching some bad breaks along the way,” Hibbs said. “I never lost my confidence throughout the way.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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